In an effort to save money spent on legal fees, the Board of Education opted in favor of working with Town Attorney Vincent Marino rather than the firm it typically works with, Shipman and Goodwin. “Since I’ve been on the board, our legal fees have become a bit of an issue because they are high,” explained Board of Education chairman Bill Kraut. “We discussed how we can lower those expenses and we thought we could tap the resources that the town uses, Cohen and Wolf and Vin Marino.”
Marino handled the contracts and legal issues associated with the flood and shut down of Peck Place School in 2014. By using Marino and Cohen and Wolf, the district could save around 40% per hour for a lead attorney, and over 50% for an associate attorney. “I personally like the idea because I know Vin is very conscious of cost. We did approach Shipman about paying a retainer and they were not interested,” said Kraut. The school district will not terminate the relationship with Shipman and Goodwin, but will have the option to save money by working with the local attorney.
The board voted in favor – with one abstention and two no votes — of entering a retainer with Cohen and Wolf for a six-month trial period at a rate of between $1,000 and $1,500 a month. This year, the Board of Education spent $63,000 in legal fees and is looking to lower those costs.
Board member Susan Riccio, who voted against the proposal, out of fairness would have preferred to have opened the offer to any local attorney. However, she does support the board’s relationship with Marino. “When it comes to town attorneys and board attorneys, it’s really an executive decision, not something you put out to bid to the lowest cost provider. Vin Marino knows the ins and outs of our town, the politics of our town, the personnel of our town and I think it’s a great idea,” said board member Christian Young.
Cohen and Wolf has roughly 50 attorneys in offices across the state. “It’s a substantial firm. Their depth and breadth of expertise is incredibly expansive from contracts to employment to municipal. They don’t have any shortage of very capable counsel,” Young said.
The board approved Superintendent Vince Scarpetti negotiating a six-month contract capped at no more than $1500 monthly with Cohen and Wolf and Attorney Marino.
By Melissa Nicefaro – Orange Town News Correspondent